As women age, their bodies undergo a natural transition known as peri-menopause and menopause. These phases mark significant hormonal changes that can bring about various physical and emotional symptoms. Understanding the nuances of peri-menopause and menopause is essential for women to navigate this life stage with confidence and vitality. In this guide, we’ll delve into the definitions, symptoms, diagnostic considerations, and management strategies for peri-menopause and menopause, incorporating insights from both conventional medicine and Ayurveda.

Defining Peri-menopause and Menopause

Peri-menopause refers to the transitional phase leading up to menopause when ovarian function gradually declines. During this time, hormonal fluctuations can cause irregular menstrual cycles and various symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. Menopause is officially diagnosed when a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months, signalling the end of her reproductive years. It typically occurs around the age of 50 but can vary widely among individuals.

Understanding Hormonal Changes

In peri-menopause and menopause, hormonal changes, particularly in oestrogen and progesterone levels, play a central role. Oestrogen, produced primarily by the ovaries, begins to fluctuate and decline during peri-menopause, leading to symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Progesterone levels may also decrease, affecting menstrual regularity and contributing to mood swings and sleep disturbances. These hormonal shifts can impact various bodily systems, including the reproductive, cardiovascular, and skeletal systems.

Diagnostic Considerations

Diagnosing peri-menopause and menopause involves assessing a combination of symptoms, medical history, and laboratory tests. While there are no universally accepted blood parameters for diagnosing these stages based solely on hormone levels, measurements of oestrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) can provide valuable insights into ovarian function and menopausal status. Healthcare providers may also consider other factors such as age, symptoms, and overall health when making a diagnosis.

However, hormone levels can still provide valuable insights into a woman’s hormonal status during peri-menopause and menopause. Here are some general guidelines regarding oestrogen and progesterone levels:

  1. Oestrogen Levels:
    • During peri-menopause, estrogen levels may fluctuate and eventually decline as ovarian function decreases.
    • While there is considerable variability among individuals, estrogen levels may typically range from around 30 to 400 pg/mL (picograms per millilitre) during the menstrual cycle.
    • In menopause, oestrogen levels typically decrease significantly, often falling below 30 pg/mL.
  2. Progesterone Levels:
    • Progesterone levels tend to decline as women approach menopause, especially if ovulation becomes irregular or ceases.
    • During the menstrual cycle, progesterone levels usually rise after ovulation and peak in the luteal phase, ranging from approximately 2 to 25 ng/mL (nanograms per millilitre).
    • In peri-menopause and menopause, progesterone levels may decrease, sometimes falling below detectable levels.

It’s important to note that these reference ranges may vary depending on the laboratory and the specific assay method used to measure hormone levels. Additionally, other factors such as age, underlying health conditions, and medication use can influence hormone levels and their interpretation.

Incorporating Ayurvedic Wisdom for Peri-Menopause and Menopause

Ayurveda offers valuable insights into women’s health during peri-menopause and menopause. According to Ayurvedic principles, hormonal imbalances during this time are often attributed to an excess of Pitta (fire), Kapha (earth & Water) and Vata (air) doshas. Lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, and herbal supplements tailored to balance these doshas can help alleviate symptoms and support overall health. Ayurvedic practices such as yoga, meditation, and Pranayama (breathwork) can also promote relaxation and hormonal balance.

During peri-menopause and menopause, there is often an imbalance in these doshas, leading to specific symptoms:

  • Vata imbalance can manifest as dryness, anxiety, insomnia, joint pain, and irregular menstrual cycles.
  • Pitta imbalance may cause hot flashes, irritability, anger, inflammation, and digestive issues.
  • Kapha imbalance might result in weight gain, lethargy, depression, and fluid retention.

Lifestyle modifications and dietary recommendations

According to Ayurveda lifestyle & dietary recommendations can also play a significant role in managing peri-menopause and menopause symptoms

  • Follow a Vata-pacifying diet with warm, nourishing foods, including cooked vegetables, grains, and healthy fats, to counteract dryness and instability.
  • Practice regular self-massage (abhyanga) with warm sesame or coconut oil to nourish the skin, calm the nervous system, and promote relaxation.
  • Incorporate gentle yoga practices, such as restorative and yin yoga, to support flexibility, reduce stress, stimulate the lymphatic system and enhance overall well-being.
  • Prioritise adequate rest and sleep hygiene practices to support hormonal balance and rejuvenation.
  • Manage stress through mindfulness practices, meditation, and deep breathing exercises to cultivate inner peace and emotional resilience.

Ayurvedic herbs and remedies can help support hormonal balance and alleviate symptoms associated with peri-menopause and menopause

  • Ashwagandha: Adaptogenic herb that helps reduce stress, support adrenal function, and balance hormones.
  • Shatavari: Known as the “queen of herbs” for women’s health, it nourishes the reproductive system, balances hormones, and supports healthy menstrual cycles.
  • Triphala: Detoxifying and rejuvenating formula that aids digestion, supports elimination, and helps balance the doshas.
  • Brahmi: Calming herb that promotes mental clarity, reduces anxiety, and supports emotional well-being during this transitional phase.
  • Gokshura: Supports urinary and reproductive health, alleviates symptoms of vaginal dryness, and promotes hormonal balance.
  • Dashmool: A blend of ten roots with anti-inflammatory and rejuvenating properties, beneficial for joint pain, fatigue, and overall vitality.

Always consult with an Ayurvedic health practitioner before taking herbal medicine.

Peri-menopause and menopause are natural phases of a woman’s life journey, accompanied by significant hormonal changes and various symptoms. By understanding the definitions, symptoms, diagnostic considerations, and management strategies associated with these stages, women can empower themselves to navigate this transition with grace and vitality. Integrating insights from conventional medicine and Ayurveda allows for a comprehensive approach to supporting women’s health and well-being during peri-menopause and menopause.

If you would like to learn more about Ayurveda and Women’s Health or become an accredited Ayurveda Holistic Health Coach you are welcome to book a call here: Ayurveda Alchemist Academy

Harmony Robinson-Stagg

(Ayurveda & Women’s Health Practitioner)

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